In order to prepare for quilting, first decide what designs the quilting stitches will make. For a traditional look, outline important elements of the design with quilting. A grid of stitching works well in background areas. Fancier design elements that complement the theme of the quilt can also be incorporated. Make sure that there will be some stitching every few inches to secure the batting so that it does not shift.
Decide now if you need to mark the top for quilting. Simple outlining for grids can be marked with masking tape as you quilt. For more elaborate quilting designs, mark the top with one of the marking tools described in Marking Fabric for Quilting. Use the lightest mark possible. Dark marks may be difficult to remove when the quilt is finished.
Spread out the backing (right side down) on a table or other flat surface. Use masking tape to secure the backing after smoothing it out. Place the batting on top of the backing, smoothing it out also. Finally, place the completed quilt top on the backing, right side up. Stretch it out so it is smooth, and tape it.
For hand quilting, baste the layers together using long stitches. For best results, start basting at the center of the quilt and work toward the edges. Create a grid of basting by making a line of stitching roughly every four inches.
For machine quilting, baste by hand as described above or use safety pins. Place a safety pin every three or four inches. In order to save time later, avoid placing pins on quilting lines.
Want more quilting information? Try:
- Prewashing fabrics is a necessary step in quilting prep work. Learn helpful tips in Prewashing Quilt Fabric.
- Before you begin a quilting project, it's best to take the time on the front end and complete quilting prep work. Learn more on our Quilting Preparation page.
- Learn How to Quilt or brush up on the basics with our refresher course.